India-Pakistan agree on Iran gas transit fee

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New Delhi, Sept 28: India and Pakistan have agreed in principle to a transit fee for gas crossing Pakistan into India from Iran.

Iran says it is ready to sign a seven billion dollar deal for the project when India and Pakistan finally settle on the fee. The pipeline will initially carry 60 million cubic metres of gas daily to Pakistan and India, half for each country. Under the plan, the pipeline's capacity would be increased to 150 million cubic metres at a later date.

Iran says it has completed 18 per cent of the work for the pipeline to bring gas from its South Pars field up to Iran-Pakistan border. Pakistan has yet to begin on a 1,000-kilometre stretch of the pipeline to link Iran with India.

New Delhi and Islamabad have reached broad understanding on the transportation tariff payable to Pakistan for wheeling natural gas through the 1,035-km pipeline segment in that country.

"We have communicated to Iran's Petroleum Ministry's Special Representative H Ghanimi Fard and Pakistan's Petroleum Secretary Farrakh Qayyum that we will not be attending the trilateral meeting unless bilateral issues are resolved with Pakistan," the official said.

Incidentally, a bilateral meeting of officials from India and Pakistan was scheduled in Islamabad last month, but New Delhi cancelled appearance at the last minute citing "pressing urgencies at home."

The bilateral talks were to be immediately followed by trilateral discussions, which were attended by Iran and Pakistan, but not India.

Iran had called a meeting of technical experts and lawyers from the three nations during September 24-26 to exchange views on the gas-supply contract that India and Pakistan, as consumers, would have to sign with fuel supplier Iran. Officials of the three countries were to then discuss the issue on September 27.


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